Getting fit is not easy. The thought of sitting with a jar of Nutella in front of Netflix is often far more appealing than the sweat, pain and self-drive required for good exercise. It’s unlikely you’ll regret doing the exercise after you have done it though, while there’s every chance you will regret the jar of Nutella.
So how do you get off the couch and start burning calories? That’s where we come in. There are numerous apps, fitness trackers and sports watches out there to help you on your running journey. We’ve rounded them up to get you started and build you up from that comfy couch to a 5K run.
Best apps for Couch to 5K
One You Couch to 5K
The One You Couch to 5K has a nine-week training program – though you can take longer if you want to – and there are five trainers to choose from to help motivate and support you along your running journey.
There’s a countdown timer so you’ll know how long you have left for each run, as well as a half time bell so you know when it’s time to head home and you can track all your progress and achievements as you complete your runs. You can also set run reminders to make sure you don’t miss a run.
Couch to 5K Runner
The Couch to 5K Runner app has an eight-week training programme that requires you to train three times a week for 30 minutes a day. Alternating between walking and running intervals, the run segments will gradually increase over the course of the program.
You’ll be told when to walk and when to run and the Couch to 5K Runner app is compatible with music apps so you can listen to your favourite playlist on Spotify whilst still hear your coaching commands. This app is also compatible with other GPS running apps, like Nike+ and it supports Apple Health too.
C25K 5K Trainer
The C25K app is an eight-week program that, like the Couch to 5K Runner app, requires you to train three times a week for 30 minutes. It’s compatible with a range of GPS apps, MyFitnessPal and music apps including Spotify and Apple Music so you’ll still hear the coach over your playlist.
You’ll be able to track your calories and distance for each workout and there are light and dark modes, as well as Apple Health integration. As with the other apps on this list, you basically just have to press start and away you go.
Couch to 5K
The Couch to 5K app is a nine-week program and relies on you training three times a week for between 20 and 30 minutes. There are four virtual coaches to choose from and human audio cues will guide you through your training sessions.
Couch to 5K is compatible with music apps so you can listen to your music and hear coaching cues and there’s GPS support in the app too so you can calculate distance, pace and map routes. You’ll also get treadmill support for manual entry of workouts and you can track your progress with total distance and average pace. A 5K to 10K follow up app is available too for when you surpass your 5K goal.
Zombies, Run! 5K Training
The Zombies, Run! 5K Training apps is for those who want to improve their fitness but have a little fun while doing it. It’s designed as an eight-week training program, with instructions for each workout on when you should walk, run, jog or stretch, but it has a story to follow too, making it more interesting.
You’ll get a progress report for your training and the zombie story continues through the program, keeping you entertained while running. As with the other Couch to 5K apps we have listed, the Zombies, Run! 5K Training app is compatible with music apps so you can hear cues over your playlists and it is compatible with Apple Health too.
Best wearables for Couch to 5K
GPS sports watch
A GPS sports watch is a great way to track your runs accurately without bringing your smartphone with you. Using a GPS sportswatch also means less battery drain on your smartphone too. The software offered by GPS sports watches varies depending on the company, but many tap into a wider community that helps keep up motivation.
Garmin is a great platform for runners, offering plenty of data through its Connect platform, as well as a huge user base, but you could also consider Polar, Fitbit or Apple Watch, depending on what your budget is and how much data you want to see. What you buy will also likely depend on whether you plan to continue running after reaching your 5K goal.
Our recommendation: Garmin Forerunner 35
For beginners, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is a great starting GPS sportswatch. It offers access to Garmin’s platform, delivers accurate fitness tracking, a strong battery life and a reliable heart rate sensor. Read our full review here.
An activity tracker is different to a GPS sportswatch in that many use Connected GPS rather than built-in GPS, meaning you’ll still need to bring your phone with you on a run if you want the route data, though they will estimate distance travelled without your phone.
The great thing about an activity tracker is that they are designed to encourage movement, tracking steps and calories burned, as well as heart rate, sleep and other metrics like floors climbed and VO2 Max, depending on the model you buy. Fitbit is an excellent platform for activity trackers, offering data in an easy to understand format, but Garmin also offers options, including some with GPS built in, and Withings has a couple too.
Our recommendation: Fitbit Charge 3
The Fitbit Charge 3 has a lovely waterproof design and it offers a great battery life, alongside accurate tracking. There’s no built-in GPS but it has Connected GPS, heart rate tracking, excellent sleep tracking and calorie and step counting. It has automatic exercise recognition on board too in case you forget to log your run. Read our full review here.
The headphones you wear during exercising will likely be different to those you’ll wear for casual listening. Workout headphones need to be comfortable, sweat resistant and secure fitting.
There are a number of options out there, some of which have heart rate monitors built in too, but they don’t come cheap if you want ones that sound good too. For heart rate headphones, you can try the Lifebeam Vi, Jabra Elite Sport or Bose SoundSport Pulse, all of which are great.
Our recommendation: Beats Powerbeats Pro
The latest Beats Powerbeats Pro are a great pair of wire-free workout headphones and our top recommendation if you don’t want heart rate tracking built in. They have nine-hours of battery life, a great design, an impressive sound and they are excellent for running. Read our full review here.